Day 6

An African American ex-cop with four sons reflects on what happened in Dallas

On Thursday, five police officers were killed in what the Dallas Police Department says was a targeted attack on white police officers. The shootings came at the end of a peaceful protest over the police shootings of two black men earlier in the week. Retired Los Angeles police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey tells Gill Deacon what she thinks is at stake in this moment in the United States.
Police work near the scene where 12 officers were shot, five of whom have now died, on July 8, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Getty Images)

Cheryl Dorsey has a lot of conflicted feelings about the relationship between police and African Americans. 

But on Thursday night, as she watched the news coming out of Dallas, where snipers had taken aim at members of the Dallas police force, shooting 12 officers and killing five, she had only one reaction. 

There but for the grace of God go I.- Retired African-American police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey

"My heart broke for the officers who were killed in the line of duty," she tells guest host Gill Deacon. "I mean this is the thing we all dread, and there but for the grace of God go I."

"We want to go home at the end of the evening, as do citizens who encounter police officers."

Cheryl Dorsey is a black woman. She's also a former Sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department. And she's now working with the National Coalition of Law Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability

So while she could immediately put herself in the shoes of the Dallas police officers being fired on, she can also imagine herself as Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, an African-American man who was shot dead by a police officer this week.

Police attempt to calm the crowd as someone is arrested following the sniper shooting in Dallas on July 7, 2016. (AFP/Getty Images)

"As a black woman first, this is something that has been going on for a long, long time. For black and brown people in minority communities, we've always had angst in our dealings with police officers," she tells Deacon. 

There's a lack of trust on both sides now. And it seems to be widening.- Retired African-American police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey

"And I'm a mother of four sons so I'm acutely aware of how one must comport themselves if you are an African American and a male when you encounter the police."

Cheryl Dorsey was with the LAPD during the Rodney King riots in 1992. And while she's hesitant to draw parallels between then and now, she does worry about the moment the United States finds itself in now. 

"It's very dangerous. I mean we've had five police officers killed in the line of duty in a single event," she says. 

"Everybody really needs to take a deep breath, take a step back. There's a lack of trust on both sides now. And it seems to be widening."